Nobody said it better: Jayne on natural wine

August 10, 2009

Above: Yesterday, my friends Alex Stuempfig (left) and John Rikkers (right) and I tasted Lunar together — some very orange wine — at the first-ever San Diego Natural Wine Summit at Jaynes Gastropub. Photos by Tracie B.

Tracie B and I had a blast yesterday at the San Diego Natural Wine Summit. A big heartfelt thank you from me to Jayne and Jon (owners of Jaynes) and the staff, to the suppliers who generously poured and spoke, and to all the folks who came out to taste, to trade notes, and to share in our passion for natural wine.

Above: It was super fun to float around the tasting, talking to people and tasting wine. At one point, I jumped behind the Kermit Lynch table. That’s me, riffing on some killer Guy Breton Beaujolais Morgon.

As I floated around the tasting, talking to people, tasting, and comparing notes, I couldn’t help but think about how natural wine is so much more than just a style or philosophy or ideology of winemaking. As I watched and enjoyed the many oohs and ahs of people tasting a vivace (gently sparkling) blend of Cortese, Favorita, and Arneis (the Arcese by Bera, which Tracie B noted was THE wine of the tasting) or the killer Mikulski Aligoté (which has got to be the best Aligoté I’ve ever tasted), it occurred to me that natural wine is also a lifestyle, an attitude about food and wine and what we put in our bodies, and a culture that brings like-minded folks together. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone drank natural wine?

Above: Even Aria loves natural wine. Her daddys are the nicest folks and just another reason why I love natural wine.

Nobody said it better than Jayne: “Whatever it is — food or wine — the things I like the best are the things that are manipulated the least.” Great words to live, eat, and drink by, no?

I’ll be posting more on the tasting here, at the Jaynes blog, and at the 2Bianchi blog as well, so please stay tuned… and thanks to everyone for your support!


Spanna 55 or 58? The answer and seals on the beach

July 24, 2009

You may remember a post from more than two years ago on a bottle of Vallana Spanna 1958 that my good buddy, wine writer and WSJ editor, Jeff Grocott and I shared for our fortieth birthdays. The wine was fantastic — fresh, with lively acidity and fruit, a real treat. Last night, I had the great fortune to pour and to taste the 1955 with our good friend and Jaynes Gastropub regular John G, who graciously tasted me, Jayne, and Jon on the wine (as we say in the wine biz, using the dative form of first person singular, for you linguist geeks). Jayne and Jon have some crazy stuff on their reserve list (be sure to ask them or me about it next time you visit) and this beauty showed gloriously. As much as I enjoyed the 58 back in New York with Jeff, I have to say that the 55 showed better (and is generally considered the slightly superior of the two spectacular vintages for Piedmont). Had it been topped off with young wine at some point? I’m sure it had. Was it recorked (and maybe even rebottled) recently? Probably not so recently, given the mold I found under the capsule. Was it a stunningly delicious wine, with vibrant fruit and acidity, and that ineffable lightness that traditional Nebbiolo attains when vinified and aged in a traditional manner? Well, I think you get the picture… If not, see the photo above.

When my shift ended, Jayne and Jon graciously let me pop a bottle of the 2004 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano by Sanguineto I had brought in my wine bag. My pairing? The Jaynes Burger, obviously. Man, I am just so crazy about this wine — a traditional, old-school expression of Sangiovese (in this case, known as Prugnolo Gentile), with smaller amounts of Mammolo and Canaiolo. Classic red fruit flavors, Nadia Comăneci balance between acidity, fruit, and tannin (Benoit, who shared the bottle with me, agreed). I’ve squirreled away another bottle to share with Tracie B (maybe over camaronillas — deep-fried corn tortillas stuffed with Pacific Ocean shrimp — at Bahia Don Bravo, my lovely?) when we come back out in a few weeks for the San Diego Natural Wine Summit at Jaynes August 9. Check out the wines we’ll be pouring here.

Jumping on a plane now to get back to Tracie B in Austin (it’s been two days too long since I’ve seen her) but here’s a quick vid I shot this morning of the seals outside of mama Judy’s place in La Jolla:


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